The sharing economy is growing. In almost every industry, people are finding ways to leverage each other for their values.
Questions about the future, though, are always best guesses. No one thought they could get into a random car with a large “U” on the dash and trust it to take you places.
Similarly, I know people have their doubts about not eating at restaurants, but there’s MealSurfers. Times are changing.
I notice three big trends that are coming about in this space, and each will help shape the future of the sharing economy.
Regulation and People
There is simply too much regulation in almost any industry to allow sharing economy opportunities to be created. In Canada, we live in an oligopoly state. Trust me—I used to work for a bank.
Oligopolies make it very hard for competitors and reduce innovation that benefits people. You and I can change that. Uber does it through petitions; Airbnb does it through social marketing efforts. If we believe we deserve a more collaborative world, we can have it.
Community and Trust
I can only assume that back in the day people were more collaborative, and worked together with a sense of community. You could go over to your friend’s house without a silly question like “why didn’t you call first?” Now that has changed, and it might be because communication got better.
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The irony is we as humans long for community. The Internet is creating opportunities to have that again, and there will be things like VarageSale and Bazinga Technologies that continue to succeed. It is these communities that will enable the appropriate infrastructure for the sharing economy. The Internet, may allow us to trust each other again.
Freelancing and Flexibility
I don’t know if everyone wants to work 40-hour weeks, with the same schedules and redundant processes. I think the younger generation prefers contracts and flexible employment. The ability to work from home and set different hours is becoming more prevalent. The definition of business casual is becoming more vague.
Maybe our generation is foolish. Or maybe we don’t want the same things day in and day out. Work is changing, and these sharing economy models may one day create a sustainable lifestyle for many.
Irrespective of what the future holds, there will be more companies in this space. Some will try to emulate Uber, while others emulate Etsy. I think many will also be shut down.
I encourage you to have an open mind about companies in this space. As Canadians there are numerous ways to create value for each other if we keep collaboration top of mind.